Sam Clemens Goes To Hell

The Senate today passed its version of the health-care bill. It is by no account a pretty thing — among the latest complaints about it is the payoff given to Ben Nelson in exchange for his vote, whereby the rest of the Union must absorb, in perpetuity, any costs Nebraska may incur whilst expanding Medicaid — but there it is. The full text of the Senate bill is here (with manager’s amendment here), and in a Christmas-y spirit of amiable bipartisan brotherliness I plan to give it a detailed and sympathetic reading over the holidays, on the off chance that my shriveled, conservative, Grinch’s heart may grow a size or two, allowing me thereby to see that this legislation is in fact the gateway to a broad, sunlit upland of carefree and salubrious prosperity for all, and not the grotesque and fiscally irresponsible pork-laden, bureaucracy-bloating, dependency-culture-expanding, dearly bought boondoggle it appears to be.

The Senate bill must, of course, still be reconciled in conference with the House version, which you can read here. The Times has also put together a helpful point-by-point comparison of the two packages here.

Speaking of the Times: at their website today is this story about Harry Reid’s vote this morning in the Senate; apparently he playfully voted against the bill before voting for it. Accompanying the story is a photo of Mr. Reid and Senator Dick Durbin warming themselves before the fire in Mr. Reid’s office early this morning, prior to the vote. I was startled to see, on Mr. Reid’s wall, a large portrait of the man whose stated opinions of the august body of which Mr. Reid is a member included the following:

“It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.”

“Fleas can be taught nearly anything that a Congressman can.”

“…the smallest minds and the selfishest souls and the cowardliest hearts that God makes.”

“Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”

“Congressman is the trivialest distinction for a full grown man.”

“All Congresses … have a kindly feeling for idiots, and a compassion for them, on account of personal experience and heredity.”

“No man’s life, liberty, or property is safe while Congress is in session.”

“This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer.”

OK, not that last one; that’s from Will Rogers (I like it so much I had to throw it in anyway). But all the rest, of course, dripped from the pen of Mark Twain.

And here he is!

I can only imagine what poor old Sam must be thinking. Or what Harry was, for that matter. If he was.

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